Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Creation Museum, which opened on May 28, is an innovative, $27 million complex in Petersburg, Ky. that argues “The Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation.” It exists to combat the consensus among geologists, paleontologists, biologists, cosmologists, and a variety of other professionals anchored in the framework of science, that the Earth is billions of years old and humans were not created by God in their present form. It is the headquarters for the United States branch of Answers in Genesis (AiG), an organization and ministry dedicated to defending the superiority of a literal understanding of the Bible.
The museum is located just a short drive away from the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport, which places it within a day’s drive of almost two-thirds of the U.S. population. As someone who used to believe in a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible myself, I thought it was worth a visit. This peculiar facility houses an educational museum, classrooms for students from Christian schools and households, a war room for crafting media strategy, and more.
But whether visitors are Christian moderates, atheists, or people of different faiths, the Creation Museum does little to persuade someone to challenge their presuppositions. For example, the museum explains that fresh water fish survived Noah’s flood because the fresh water remained above salt water, and the fresh water fish survived by merely swimming in a different layer of water. It also suggests that dinosaurs became extinct because humans killed them off and that dragon myths (including Chinese dragons which look nothing like dinosaurs) reinforce this notion. The museum, which insists that God created the universe in six 24 hour days, also does an especially frustrating job of reconciling how and why God created the day and the night on the first day of creation and the sun on the fourth day. This conflict was only passively addressed in a short film featuring “a dramatic reading of Genesis,” which showed an illuminated, computer animated Earth–complete with sunshine–on day one, but the formation of the sun only later.
What the museum lacks in reason-based persuasive appeal, however, it compensates with presentation. The museum is an entertaining experience comprising a fascinating array of sets, animatronic humans and dinosaurs, and other components common in theme park attractions. Patrick Marsh, who has created rides for Universal Studios, designed the museum. Appropriately, the Creation Museum had a ride-like set path that followed AiG’s structured and absolutist understanding.
The welcome gates feature silhouettes of Stegosaurs, the park outside the facility has bushes sculpted in the shape of Tyrannosaurs, and more dinosaurs dominate the main hub of the museum. But, alas, the Creation Museum sets any young dinosaur enthusiast up for disappointment.